We’ve all been there… shoving the newest pile of plastic grocery bags into our designated plastic bag drawer with all of our strength, wondering what to do with ALL THESE BAGS. We have the best intentions of reusing them, but after a couple of uses, those bags meet their fate in the trash bin. I’m here to tell you that it is possible to live without those pesky plastic bags. And marine life, our environment, and future generations will thank you for it.
When I moved to Hawaii, the Plastic Bag Ban was in full effect and I realized how easy it is to do without traditional plastic bags. Substituting recyclable paper bags and compostable plastic bags was an easy fix, but I began developing a new designated bag drawer that was slowly but surely filling up. Plus, this was really only a quick fix. I was still depleting resources to produce these paper and plastic bags, and they still were going to end up in the trash bin after a couple reuses. And what good is a compostable plastic bag if we aren’t actually disposing of them via composting?! Unfortunately, Hawaii’s legislation allows for some loopholes, as well. Some companies have developed thicker plastic bags to market as “reusable, eco-friendly” bags. These bags are even worse for the environment than the original thin plastic bags because they take a significantly longer time to degrade.
My solution to these problems is to BYOB everywhere I go! It took some getting used to and a little planning ahead, but bringing my own reusable bags on trips out of the house is a habit now. I use cloth tote bags for everyday use and thicker insulated bags for grocery trips. Bonus: some eco-friendly grocery stores will give you a 5-10 cent credit on your bill for each bag you end up using. My favorite tote from The Chemist Tree is almost always tucked into my cross-body bag just in case I need it. The best thing about a cloth tote bag is it can be folded up extremely small. I’ve pulled my honey tote out to carry my clothes home in from a retail store, and every time, I get comments from people wishing they had thought to do that. So here’s the idea- do it!